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‘Iconic plan’: A’s owner explains renderings delay, ballpark funding

Updated January 24, 2024 - 11:46 pm

Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher said Wednesday that new renderings of the team’s planned Las Vegas stadium haven’t been released because a new resort on the Tropicana site is being added to the images.

The team last month planned to unveil updated ballpark renderings and announce the architect for the project, but the event was postponed following the on-duty deaths of two Nevada Highway Patrol troopers. The unveiling has yet to be rescheduled.

Since the initial delay, Fisher said the team has been working with Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc., owner of the 35-acre Tropicana site, and Bally’s Corp., which operates the Tropicana and plans to build a new resort next to the ballpark, to create renderings that depict a fully redeveloped site, not just a new stadium.

“We’ve been working on that, and it just takes time,” Fisher told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “One minute you have a resort plan that will be here and the ballpark here, and then you’re like, ‘What will that do to ingress-egress and other really important issues?’ We want to make sure that when we do present to the county and the other agencies and groups around us that are going to have an important say in what happens, that we’re well-coordinated.”

‘Best of both worlds’

The A’s chose the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) as lead designer for the planned $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat Las Vegas ballpark.

“They were doing the work for us in Oakland as well,” Fisher said. “For us, we wanted to have a designer that would think about things a little differently.”

The team also hired firm HNTB as the architect on the project. HNTB was part of Allegiant Stadium’s design process, and the firm has worked on several other sports facilities including the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium. HNTB has offices all over the United States, including in Las Vegas.

“We wanted to have the best of both worlds,” Fisher said.

With design work still ongoing, Fisher didn’t reveal specifics about what the planned ballpark would include, but he said they’re looking at all aspects of the facility and its surrounding area.

“We’ve got into the specifics around the team store, as well as where we want concessions to be and how do we create spaces so that the stadium attracts fans 365 days a year, not just when we’re holding events,” Fisher said. “So, we’re working on all of these aspects of the plans.”

Funding

Last summer, Senate Bill 1 was signed into law by Gov. Joe Lombardo, earmarking up to $380 million in public money for the stadium.

The A’s will have to come up with the remaining costs, which will exceed $1 billion.

“That will be funded mostly with equity from my family,” Fisher said. “We would actually like to consider raising capital, especially from local investors. That creates a connection to the community, and we’ve seen that with a lot of other teams become a successful thing.”

Early plans call for ballpark construction to begin in 2025.

The team is working on finalizing various agreements with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, the public board that will oversee the construction and operation of the ballpark. The process is similar to the one that led to the opening of Allegiant Stadium, with the stadium authority also overseeing that facility.

With the A’s relocation approved by Major League Baseball and the Las Vegas stadium’s opening on track for 2028, MLB officials are relieved that a future home for the A’s is on the horizon, Fisher said. The team’s lease at aging, outdated Oakland Coliseum expires after the 2024 season.

“The league is very excited about the fact that we now have a path forward,” he said.

The A’s don’t want to try to one-up any facility that already exists in Las Vegas, Fisher said. Instead, they want to complement the other facilities and add to the valley’s venue portfolio.

“Vegas has set such a high bar in terms of what is expected,” Fisher said. “You have the Sphere, and people are like, ‘Oh my god, this is incredible.’ We’re not looking at this to try and outdo the group that came before. We hope our plan is iconic and will survive the test of time.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X.

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